There’s a stark dichotomy between who I am, and how I earn a living. One supports the other. Yet, the two realities are not bedfellows. I’ve fractured my mind to survive and thrive in a precarious profession that’s wrought with danger while I daydream over the grandeur of the Cosmos. The quiet moments between the cyclic chaos events are my coveted islands of inspiration. This delicate battle between dueling frequencies and paradoxical vibrations is the timeless ballet of a dance called Balance. Carl Sagan once described the Cosmos as antithetical to chaos. One cannot exist without the other. Where there’s Yin, there must always be Yang.
In Buddhism, the principle of balance revolves around the concept of the Middle Way, which encourages moderation and avoiding extremes in all aspects of life. This is a core principle of every major religion; including Shamanism and the mathematical laws that govern our Universe. Even the cells in our bodies naturally strive for homeostasis; otherwise known as balance. The principle of balance is rooted throughout the ancient Vedic texts, where harmonious living is venerated. Maintaining balance is crucial as it fosters inner peace, prevents attachment to desires, and cultivates wisdom by avoiding extremes of indulgence or austerity. Embracing balance allows individuals to navigate life’s challenges with equanimity, leading to a more harmonious and fulfilling existence.
The source of my income is often the source of my imbalance. To correct this inevitable inequality and guide myself back to center, I sometimes stockpile positive energy ahead of an anticipated deluge of work-related chaos. Below are two unique tales, one Yin and the other Yang. The latter was written in 2018, then stockpiled in anticipation of the former.
In the summer of 2022, I spent a few weeks working in Naples, Florida as part of a disaster relief security team after Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida. As a traveling security contractor, I worked for a small security company and provided low-threat security services for the electric company lineman at their ‘man-camps’ and at their high-value storage yards. Company leadership split our security team between two hotels, as we oversaw coverage over multiple locations throughout the region.
I slept in a luxurious hotel built for medical professionals located in a posh section of town. The rooms were superb. Each room was adorned with Egyptian cotton bedding, a high-end leather couch, and an endless Nespresso cappuccino machine. Every morning we were greeted with a silver platter gourmet breakfast before we entered the chaos beyond the bellman at the front doors.
The other half of the travel security team slept in a decrepit hotel that housed more cockroaches than guests and staff combined. However, the cockroaches had more class than the hotel staff showed our security team. A sharp lesson is on the way.
As this simple, low-stress, job began to wind down, the roach-hotel management team terminated the rooms for our security team in the most disrespectful way imaginable. Their actions were hideous and beneath us in all the ways that matter.
When the dust settled, the parent security company asked its team of hardened warfighters and Law Enforcement professionals to write a bad online review of the roach hotel. Their behavior was abhorrent and needed a glimmering spotlight of negative public attention. Sharp words shouted from the rooftop were their plan of attack. Be careful asking an author to settle in behind crew-served typewritten venom.
As requested, I wrote a scathing online review that oozed disgust over the state of ethics in our failing country. As I wrote, I noticed my new smartwatch showed a sustained heartbeat of just under 100 BPM while I etched those words onto my screen. Emotion is my medium while your imagination is my canvas. I found myself pounding the keys on my keyboard harder and harder as if readers could feel the crimson wrath through my words. I cracked the throttle and released a heaping dose of rage but was left feeling unbalanced after the hate was extracted from my psyche.
As an aside, I wrote the review in a first-person perspective to help the reader taste my disgust from a front-row seat. A victimless little white lie to ease online continuity. As follows:
“I was able to overlook the dank, mold-infested lobby because my team stayed in this garbage hotel as first responders in the wake of Hurricane Ian. I was reluctant to leave my comfortable home and rally with my team to secure the devastation brought on by Hurricane Ian. I didn’t even want to be here but if not me, then who else would keep the wolves from ravaging your remaining possessions or raping your helpless women?
We used the hotel as a momentary oasis to close our eyes and rest after a grueling day in the southwest Florida sun. My team and I provided security services for the lineman while they restored your crippled power grid after Hurricane Ian demolished your town. We tirelessly supported hundreds of badass-gentlemen-roughnecks; who showed mutual respect for sacrifices endured. They restored your power while you pouted in the dark over your predictable predicament.
As a warm gesture of this hotel’s heartfelt appreciation, this fine establishment emptied our rooms while we secured your city and piled our personal items on their filthy public conference room floor. After 3 weeks of tireless work for you ungrateful lowlifes, a simple scheduling mix-up ended with our public humiliation.
Grown men who wear badges or walk with hidden combat scars were forced to shuffle through a rat-pile to find their possessions strewn about the rancid hotel floor. Incoming hotel guests peered at our dirty underwear, vital protection gear, and valuable personal items that were scattered from wall to wall.
I’ve been in the business of corralling and protecting sheep all my life. I’ve accepted, long ago, the cold realization that our industry is a thankless industry. The stench of irony socks me in the nose when I hear the empty phrase, “Thank you for your service.” When the wolves scratch at my back and life-saving tools are ignored by the arrogant, your empty gestures become meaningless. Actions have more weight than words. Thank me for my service by treating people with respect and heed our warnings; or take your empty platitude and choke on it.
We chose this miserable profession so we can feed our families and pay our mortgage; not to be your whipping-boy sacrificial protectors. Words like honor and loyalty are empty vessels and hollow gestures to people who operate this putrid hotel. We sacrifice the potential sum of our future happiness to support the people we love; not to shoulder your disrespect.
I hope the next hurricane crumbles this dump to the ground. Don’t worry, we’ll be back to watch you cry in the dark next time too. An exert from the Sheepdog poem by Russ Vaughn reads, “And the wolves will learn what we’ve shown before, we love our sheep; we dogs of war.” The sheep know not the struggle of the quiet professionals who provide endless clover for their thankless feast. For once, I wish the sheep understood what their sheepdogs sacrifice so they’re able to sleep peacefully in their beds at night.”
Where there’s Yin, there must be Yang. The Cosmos led me to mathematics, and mathematics introduced me to Buddhism. Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion combined with a core tenant of the Vedic texts tells me for every negative action, there must be an equally positive reaction; or balance becomes a casualty. To reset the imbalance from an incendiary 4-dimentional hotel review, I drafted the article you’re reading today to showcase a wide lens for calculated harmony. The positive counterbalance to my ugly hotel review comes in the form of an equally opposite positive online review I wrote in 2018.
Buckle in because this glowing review reads like a Medal of Honor citation. It’s an epic tale of leadership in a world of misguided ethics. As follows:
July 2018: “I coordinated with Black Oak Tree Surgeon to remove a substantial number of trees from a property I just purchased. I feel Black Oak deserves a glowing review because I was impressed by their ethics and commitment to customer satisfaction from start to finish.
There was an unfortunate miscommunication along the way, but Black Oak earned a customer for life for their pledge to honor their word. I coordinated Black Oak to begin tree-removal work the day after I bought my first home. Bright and early, right on schedule, Black Oak showed up to begin slaying trees. I made a small design change when they arrived, then we agreed on a new price.
I don’t know anything about logging or clearing this number of trees. But, I am a business owner, and the price seemed a bit low for the volume of work asked of this tiny tree removal company. It’s not my job to question their business practices, so I sipped my coffee from the comfort of my office while they sweltered in the Central Florida heat.
From our first introduction, I recognized this company was different. The workers were friendly, pleasant, and seemed genuinely happy to be on the job site. It was refreshing to experience this level of content from hard laborers.
After a few hours, I noticed several additional trucks arrived at my 2-acre property. The size of the Black Oak crew also quadrupled. I didn’t think it was too odd until two Black Oak supervisors knocked on my front door with their hats in their hands. They had the heavy task of explaining a major miscommunication on the price quote. The job was bid at the wrong price. I could feel the genuine tension in the delivery of their message. It was a difficult conversation, but they explained the issue with humility and respect.
I’m also a business owner and, throughout the day, estimated the amount of overhead involved with a job this size. They underbid the job by tens of thousands of dollars. After Dustin and Chris explained the mix-up, the owner of Black Oak, Joe Singer, knocked on my front door.
Joe also held his hat in his hand when he further explained the mix-up. He stated he’d still honor the original contract at the suicidal low price. This speaks volumes about his ethics.
A leader is responsible for everything his team does or fails to do. A strong leader also sets an example for his team to follow. I now understood why his crew was so polite, respectful, and efficient. Joe led from the front. His crew followed him because he earned their respect. Joe also earned my respect that day. He was prepared to accept a major business setback just to make me happy and keep his word. That is a key learning moment.
As a struggling business owner, honoring the original plan would be financial suicide for his business. He was willing to lay on his sword to honor his word. That’s admirable. As a business owner, I empathized with the mix-up brought on by an undertrained salesman. We agreed on a new price, shook hands, then modified the plan so he can keep his doors open and family fed.
I spent my 30s in the Middle East. I served our country with 2nd Ranger Battalion and then I served as a high-threat security contractor for the U.S. Intelligence community in Afghanistan. After nearly a decade overseas, I’ve come home to a country I don’t recognize. Somewhere along the line we lost our respect for one another. Honesty, integrity, and a sense of community have escaped from our culture. Black Oak embodies the ethics and moral fiber of the country I fought so hard to protect.
We need more small businesses like Black Oak Tree Surgeon. I will use them for all future projects and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who’s looking for an honest and ethical tree service company.”
Here’s what I didn’t put in the original online review. We agreed on a price where Black Oak would break even on the job. As a struggling business with tremendous overhead costs, it was their best option. After the price was set and the job was complete, I gave Black Oak an extra $1,000 to act as a valuable business lesson. It pays to be respectful, polite, and truthful.
The laws of the Universe aren’t static equations written in a textbook. They’re alive. Balance is abound. We were born into the turbulent ocean of mathematics. From the right perspective, the chaos of turbulence has predictable laws of balance. It’s Mathematics that tells me, where there’s Yin, there must be Yang. Cycles of ebb and flow are driven by the waxing and waning of positive thinking. With the right perspective, one can learn how to steer a foundering ship to safety by deploying the timeless ballet of balance.
Scott “Longboard” Chapman served in 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment from 2001-2005. He deployed to Iraq during the 2003 invasion and then to the Afghan theatre 4 times. After the military, Scott worked in the executive protection space and then as an OGA security contractor. Providing security support to the Intelligence community where he deployed 17 times; mostly to the Forward Operating Bases (FOB). He provided security support for Intelligence personnel and operations. Scott continues to work in the contract security area.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.